My corn plant is pissed and I don't know what's wrong ...
April 27, 2013 6:15 PM   Subscribe

What's wrong with my corn plant? The tips are all burnt and dead. I definitely do not over-water it ever since this happened - am I simply under-watering it?

Here are some pictures I took. I cut all the dead ends off - should I not have?

Based on past questions around corn plants, I thought there were supposed to stay realllllly dry. But I'm worried mine are ... too dry. They sit in direct* sunlight.

* or about as direct as you can get in Seattle
posted by kthxbi to Home & Garden (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Not really dry, they just don't want to be soggy. Pick a medium between what you are doing and what you were doing, and see what happens.
posted by gjc at 6:58 PM on April 27, 2013

If the gnats come back, put a drop of liquid dish detergent in your watering container with the water when you water. I guarantee the gnats will die and it won't hurt the plants. It will take a few watering cycles, but they will be gone.
posted by michellenoel at 7:39 PM on April 27, 2013

Best answer: I agree yours appears to need some water. All through the winter, when the house is even temped, I water mine 1x per week, pretty liberally. In the summer, I water it ~every five days, depending on the temp and humidity lately. Sometimes, if I've forgotten it, it starts to look like yours. But it typically perks right back up after one watering.

ALso, mine does have a lot of leaf tips that are a little 'burnt'/brown at the tips. If you cut off the brown parts, the next part up will just turn brown too so you might as well leave them. I'd love to hear others' suggestions on why they turn brown, but I figure that nonetheless, mine is pretty happy because it bloomed recently. Maybe it's not so abnormal to have brownish tips sometimes? THe yellowing you have is interesting though. Have you ever fertilized it? Every once in a while I give mine some Miracle Gro.
posted by Tandem Affinity at 8:01 PM on April 27, 2013

Best answer: LOL - I love your pictures of the pile of ick leaves. It doesn't take much to make any Draecena look scroungy and neglected, but the good news is they're hard to kill and can look really nice when they're happy. First thing I'd do with yours is repot them into pots that are 1 to 1-1/2 inches wider in diameter than those they're in now, with lots of nice new potting soil to stretch around in - and when you do this, unpack the root ball with your hands a bit - there's not much point in just plunking a knotted-up root ball into a new soil mixture because it may take months for the plant to realize it has new stuff to grow in. Your plant looks like it's been struggling for moisture, which shows up in the rolling-in of the leaves and the limp look of the whole thing. The brown tips are pretty much just par for the course with any Draecena and nothing to get too worried about by themselves, but they can be caused by underwatering and by too much direct sun - or even by a continuous draft. Standard treatment for brown tips is just to snip the tips off, usually into a pointed shape so they look like they're meant to be that way. The shredded leaves I would attribute to your kitty cats - and are you sure the sweet kitties aren't using the plants as a potty place? That can yellow the leaves, also. When the plant gets old and gangly and blech-looking, just chop the top off of it about five inches or so below where the prettiest, healthiest leaves are, strip that five inches free of leaves and stick the "stalk" into a mason jar of water. Change the water every couple of days and it won't be too long before you see nice roots developing. When you get a whole mess of roots - enough to nearly plug the mason jar top - pot your little joy into a nice new pot and enjoy more years as it grows up and gets beautiful. Oh - and don't feed it for at least three months after you give it new potting soil and not in the winter time at all, and when you do feed it, do it gently - use less than what's recommended. I like Miracle Gro for houseplants the best, but that's just my preference.

Good luck with your troublesome child.
posted by aryma at 8:03 PM on April 27, 2013

It doesn't look that upset and is totally salvageable. I'd repot with better soil. And by better, I mean fast-draining. You may need to mix some yourself - say, 1/3 Miracle Gro Cactus Soil, 1/3 bark chips, and 1/3 pea gravel. And put a top dressing of pea gravel on the top as well to deter bugs even further. Then you can water it more frequently which it needs but it won't retain enough water to house fungus gnats.
posted by vegartanipla at 8:08 PM on April 27, 2013

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